Can You Put Wood in Recycle Bin?

Handling waste wood is a familiar challenge in the woodworking industry. What happens to the wood chips, sawdust, and old wood pieces lying throughout the workshop? What about old furniture?

Every sensible woodworker attempts to reuse and repurpose as much of it as possible. But what about the rest? Can you put wood in recycle bin?

Can you put it in the trash can? If not, where does it go? We answer these and many other waste wood handling questions below.

Can You Put Wood in Recycle Bin?

No, you cannot put wood in the recycling bin. Why? Because wood contaminates the recycling stream, which is meant to be clean and residue-free. So, instead, the best way to “recycle” wood is to send it to designated facilities for processing into wood chips and mulch.

Is Wood Recyclable?

Generally, yes, wood is recyclable. For instance, clean timber, dimensional lumber, stumps, and limbs are readily recyclable.

However, wood isn’t recyclable through standard curbside recycling programs. Secondly, some types of wood, such as creosote-treated wood, are recyclable.

Why is wood not recyclable?

The main reason wood is not recyclable through standard curbside recycling programs is that it needs to be taken to special wood recycling facilities with the equipment necessary to clean, chip, and shred it before reuse.

Shredded wood has many applications in landscaping, paper-making, and construction projects. Recycled wood is also commonly used in the energy sector. Fortunately, nearly every major city has a functioning wood recycling facility.

How come paper is recyclable but wood isn’t?

The main reason you can recycle paper via standard curbside programs but not wood is that the pulp used to make paper is already clean, shredded, and processed.

By contrast, solid wood has not been shredded into pulp or wood chips and may thus contain impurities. Unfortunately, standard recycling facilities don’t have the equipment necessary to clean, sift and remove impurities from wood.

Does wood go in recycling?

In the end, yes. The only difference is where it’s recycled. Whereas standard waste is recycled in standard facilities, wood waste is recycled in special facilities with the capacity to clean the wood, shred it, and process it into chips for reuse.

Recyclable Vs Non-Recyclable Wood Waste

Now that we know that some wood types are recyclable while others aren’t, you’re probably wondering which types of wood waste you can put in the recycling bin and which ones you shouldn’t.

Recyclable wood

The only type of wood you can put in the recycle bin is clean, unfinished, untreated wood. However, this criteria rules out most wood types. For instance, waste wood from furniture is typically finished through either painting or staining.

Moreover, most furniture lumber is treated with chemicals to repel insects and protect it against weather-occasioned damages, including UV fading.

Unrecyclable Wood

  • Treated wood: Any wood treated with chemicals for any reason, including to enhance the wood’s pest and rot resistance, cannot be recycled.
  • Painted wood: Paints contain chemicals that standard recycling facilities cannot process. Therefore, you must not put painted wood in the recycling bin.
  • Lacquered wood: Lacquer, too, contains chemicals, including urethane and cyanide compounds. Therefore, you should not put any lacquer-finished wood or lacquered wood waste in the recycling bin.

Of course, wood containing nails is also unrecyclable. So, don’t put it in the green recycling bin.

What to Do with Unrecyclable Wood?

Fortunately, there are many alternative ways to handle wood waste, including unrecyclable pieces. The following are a few options to consider;

Repurpose it

One of the best methods to handle waste wood is to use it for a different purpose. For instance, many woodworkers regularly turn wooden crates into furniture and storage solutions.

Similarly, you can use old wood for raised garden structures, make wood trim, and repair broken furniture. The options are endless.

Give it away

If you’re not a woodworker and don’t own a garden where you can reuse old wood, an excellent alternative is to give it away for free.

Every woodworker is eternally grateful for such opportunities are happy to arrange for pick up. So, ask the local workshop and share the news online. Someone will come for the waste wood immediately.

Sell it for a small fee

Instead of giving it away for free, you can also sell it for a small fee. Unsurprisingly, many woodworkers are happy to pay as they regularly need scrap lumber to fill gaps in their daily projects.

You can also sell wood scraps to those who need them for heating/fireplaces.

Burn it in a fireplace or fire pit

Do you own a fire pit or wood-burning fireplace? If so, you may not need to sell or give away your wood scraps. Instead, pile the scaps somewhere for the heating season.

Burning wood provides strong fires with a dreamy ambiance that electronic fireplaces cannot match. However, ensure to first chop the wood into smaller pieces for safety reasons.

And incase you are disposing off treated wood, check our guide here on how to burn pressure-treated wood.

Create mulch

Wood dust, yard waste, and wood debris make excellent mulching materials. They trap moisture around the plant’s root while keeping ground insects at bay.

Moreover, it’s an organic matter that eventually decomposes, generating valuable nutrients for your plants. So, rather than throw away waste wood, chop it into smaller pieces and turn it into mulch material.

Add it to your compost pile

Wood waste also makes excellent compost material. However, don’t forget to chop it into smaller pieces before adding it to the compost pile, as smaller wood pieces decompose much faster than large pieces of wood.

The good news is that all wood types, including painted wood and wood with nails, decompose without any issues.

Deliver to a local waste management company

Unfortunately, sometimes you may have a massive pile of unrecyclable wood. This is especially true for woodworkers and people moving homes.

If you cannot repurpose or reuse the wood at home and are experiencing challenges selling or giving it away, consider delivering it to a hazardous waste facility for a few bucks.

Take to the wood recycling center

Finally, you can also personally deliver waste wood to a wood recycling facility. Wood recycling centers aren’t as selective with wood as standard recycling facilities.

They will happily accept the wood, clean it, and process it for use in other applications.

Other Ways to Handle Waste Wood

There are many other ways to handle waste wood and old furniture. For instance, a biomass producer will happily accept the wood to make electricity or cooking gas.

Alternatively, you can throw it away. But do you know you can repaint the old wood? Knowing how to paint over painted wood can be valuable, allowing you to give new life to old furniture or wood items.

Best Wood Recycling Bins

With all the restrictions around where you can and cannot put waste wood, it may be helpful to designate a separate bin for all your wood waste and arrange special pickups.

Fortunately, you can use several types of recycling bins for wood waste if you label the bin appropriately. Below are two options to consider;

1. Wood trash can, farmhouse wastebasket from SEHERTIWY

The farmhouse wastebasket from SEHERTIWY is made from high-quality wood that withstands long-term use. It’s also durable, sturdy, and eco-friendly.

Moreover, the rustic design means it’s the ideal choice for rough use environments. The trash can has an arc opening and a rectangle bottom for maximum capacity.

The reverse pyramid design makes it easy to throw garbage into it and has two handles for portability and convenience. Always chop wood into small chips before throwing them in the bin.

Key features

  • It’s durable and sturdy
  • Accepts a wide range of applications
  • Ergonomic handles increase handling convenience

2. MOOACE Wood Trash Can Wastebasket

The MOOACE is another excellent wooden wastebasket. It’s made from durable but eco-friendly wood and comes in a stylish, rustic finish ideal for garages and workshops.

The trash can has two handles for easy carrying. It’s a small wastebasket at 9.8 x 6.7 x 11.8 inches. However, it takes an inverted pyramid shape that leaves a wide opening, making it easy to toss garbage into the bin.

Don’t put wet items into the trash can as it may cause rotting or mold.

Key features

  • It’s a simple, beautiful wood trash basket
  • It’s a versatile, multifunctional item
  • A unique design with ergonomic handles sets it apart


Can wood go in the green bin?

Yes, wood and other garden materials go in the green lidded bin. However, they do not belong to the yellow-lidded bin as they may cause contamination and thus compromise the recyclable items. So, please place them in the green-lidded food and garden organics (FOGO) bin instead.

What trash can does wood go in?

Branches and untreated wood used outside can go in the green bin together with garden plants, grass cuttings, and live Christmas trees. However, that’s it. Treated wood, painted furniture, and acquired items don’t go into recycling bins. Instead, you must separately arrange for the safe disposal of these items.

Can you throw wood in the trash?

Yes, households can dispose of treated wood in the trash. However, many local authorities require cutting the wood into smaller pieces before putting the pieces into the trash can. Otherwise, plan to deliver the large wood pieces to a transfer or processing facility.

Can you put tree branches in recycle bin?

No, unfortunately, you cannot recycle wood through your curbside recycling. However, there are a few alternatives. For instance, check if your trash pickup service offers roadside collection. Alternatively, rent a dumpster for the day and use it to deliver the branches to the nearby transfer facility. You can also hire a junk removal company.

Can you put wood in the yard waste bin?

Yes, you can put wood in the yard waste bin. You can mix the solid wood with yard clippings and put them in the yard waste bin. But, there are a few ground rules. For instance, whereas stained wood is acceptable, treated wood isn’t. More importantly, you must first break down the wood into smaller pieces to fit the yard waste cart.

Can you put wood in the garden waste bin?

No, you cannot put wood in the brown garden waste bin as it is reserved for garden waste, such as grass, leaves, and flowers. Other items you shouldn’t put in the garden waste bin include kitchen waste, paper, shredded paper, and large branches.

Can you recycle wood scraps?

Yes, waste wood, including clean timber, dimensional lumber, stumps, limbs, and wood scraps, are easily recyclable. However, wood that has been treated (such as creosote-treated pieces), painted, and stained wood is not appropriate for recycling and should be disposed of appropriately.

Is wood compostable?

All wood-based materials, including leaves, furniture lumber, twigs, paper, and cards, can be composted. The only difference is that they decompose at different rates. For instance, smaller pieces of wood with large surface areas decompose faster than stumps. Similarly, sawdust decomposes faster than wood shavings.

Is plywood recyclable?

Yes, plywood is recyclable, including oriented strand board. In contrast, particle board is not recyclable and must be disposed of appropriately. However, beware that only non-treated plywood is recyclable. Otherwise, it must be disposed of like all the types of particle board. It’s best to revisit your municipality’s guidelines on the same.

You can compare marine grade plywood vs pressure treated wood here.

How is wood recycled?

Recycling wood involves loading waste wood into a chipping machine using a shovel or grabber and then transferring the chipped wood to a screening process that produces wood dust. Wood dust has applications in paper making and the agricultural and chemical industries.

Read: How long does it take for wood to petrify?

Can you recycle wood furniture?

Yes, you can recycle the materials of wood furniture. However, not all wood furniture products are recyclable. For instance, painted and stained wood is not recyclable. The same applies to chemical or pressure-treated wood. Non-recyclable wooden furniture must be disposed of properly.


Handling waste wood can be a big challenge especially given the endless rules governing where you can and cannot put different types of waste wood items. So, can you put wood in recycle bin?

The bottom line is that wood is unrecyclable and must not go into the recycling bin. Instead, you should find alternative methods to handle waste wood.

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